Season 3, Episode 17, “The Jolly Roger”
Written by David H. Goodman
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Airs Sundays at 8pm EST on ABC
The first half of season three of Once Upon a Time was very shaky. Most of it left us agitated, frustrated, and downright bored. However after the very long hiatus, the writers came back rejuvenated and fighting fresh and the first handful of episodes back have been packed with the magic that Once featured in its first season. Episodes 16 and 17 are no different. Both of them have us biting our fingers in suspense and laughing out loud.
In “It’s Not Easy Being Green” we are finally treated to a backstory for Zelena. The episode gives great in-depth detail about Zelena, showing why is the way she is. Rebecca Mader is once again the breakout star of the episode. The way that she delicately handles the material the writers give her is phenomenal. Mader has a knack, much like Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle, to make us feel for her character. Zelena was abandoned and pushed away by almost every single person that she loved and Mader makes our hearts wrench every time Zelena is hit with another low blow. Honestly, can we blame her for becoming so wicked, after all the times she was screwed over? Mader is delightful to watch and one of the best guest stars that Once Upon a Time has ever brought in.
The writers put a nice little twist on the Wicked Witch storyline, as they are known to do, having Zelena turn green because she was so powerful that her envy began to show. It was fun to watch her backstory and even get a merry old trip to Oz. The writers don’t stop there- they keep the turns, shocks, and laughs coming with “The Jolly Roger”.
“The Jolly Roger” brings Captain Hook front and center and it’s a refreshing backstory compared to the story we had earlier this season, which just killed the pacing of the show. Colin O’Donoghue has always been delightful to watch on the screen. His Captain Hook is up there with Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow for best pirate portrayal. O’Donoghue, however, can provide not only action, laughs, and sometimes evilness, but he also has a loving side, one we get to see in the Storybrooke storyline when he confesses his love for Emma. Once may usually excel by focusing on its female characters, but it’s nice to see the boys come out to play every now and then, although O’Donoghue’s thunder is almost stolen by JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who returns as our beloved Ariel. Swisher’s Ariel played a pretty important role in the first half of season three and was featured in the episode that began season three’s grand turn around. It’s nice having her back and seeing her play off of O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook is interesting. The two of them play off of each other wonderfully; it’s a shame that this is probably Ariel’s final appearance, at least in season three. It would have been nice to see more of Ariel and Hook together.
So far the second half of season three is going splendidly. The entire crew of Once Upon a Time has picked up the pace and they are evidently trying to recapture the magic that stole our hearts in season one. “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and “The Jolly Roger” not only feature great acting and exceptional storytelling and writing, but they feature great CGI, as well. The Wizard scene in “It’s Not Easy Being Green” is magnificent. They not only create the perfect setting for the Wizard, but make it colorful and out of this world, as Oz should be. “The Jolly Roger” also features some great effects, particularly when Regina is teaching Emma magic on the bridge. Everyone is truly on their A game in this wickedly good second part of season three.
There are only a handful of episodes left in season three of Once Upon a Time and if the writers keep up the strong pacing and the excellent writing, then season one and two might end up turning green with envy.